Emmanuel Eulalia would like the British Royal family to know that if they’d like to invite him, he can make room in his schedule next May to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married.
“Definitely,” said St. Francis’ theater director, chuckling, “I’ll be there for the wedding.”
Eulalia has been overseeing a robust theatrical program at St. Francis since the 1998-99 school year, when he directed “Oedipus Rex,” his first production for the school — which starred Markle as the female lead, Jocasta.
Markle, as you probably have heard, is engaged to Prince Harry, who currently is fifth in line of succession to the British throne.
The 36-year-old, Los Angeles-raised actress is set to become the first American to marry into the royal family since Wallis Simpson wed King Edward VIII — which led to his abdication from the throne more than 80 years ago.
Growing up, Markle attended Los Angeles Immaculate Heart High School, one of St. Francis’ sister schools.
She was St. Francis’ homecoming queen in 1998. “And not only that!” Eulalia said he’s been quick to tell friends. “She was the lead actress in my first production at St. Francis!”
She was a part of an ambitious production that set the tone for the success of the theater program, which has included the construction of a dedicated state-of-the-art theater and renditions of “Hamlet,” “Beauty and the Beast,” the “Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Miss Saigon” — during which a life-size prop helicopter landed on stage.
“The first production I said, ‘We have to go really big,’” said Eulalia, who also teaches English and mass media at St. Francis. “Since we’re learning ‘Oedipus’ in school, and that’s one that was most memorable for me growing up and has a lot of nuance in it, let’s do ‘Oedipus.’ And we have to present it in Greek style — no microphones, with all the masks and stuff.
“There were a lot of people who auditioned, and not only that, we had the audience, the theater was full for three days.
“And Meghan auditioned for it.”
Eulalia — whose office decor is indicative of his deep-seated interest in all things England, sparked by his passion for Shakespeare — remembers Markle well.
She made an immediate impression, he said, and she proved to be a hard worker.
“She was a standout,” said Eulalia, who was a founding member of the popular Filipino vocal group The CompanY more than 30 years ago. “I had to be strict and disciplined at the start because otherwise, what would follow? I had to set the standard, and she was great. She worked hard. She’s from Immaculate Heart, which is not that far, but still, it’s farther than some of our other sister schools. So it was a drive for her, but she was there all the time and present, I remember that.
“There were a number of girls; I had a whole Greek chorus in the background, because it was my first one and I didn’t want to kick anybody out; if you wanted to be here, let’s find a place for you. And I cast her as the lead. There are people who just walk in and they have that presence; you find that in the first round of an audition.”
St. Francis staged “Oedipus Rex” on
Jan. 7-9, 1999, across the street at Flintridge Prep. In the program distributed to the audience, Markle, a senior, wrote, “I would like to give thanks to Mommy, Daddy, Sushi, Aubergine, Danny boy, Brad Gabe and Gabe, all the sweethearts at Sacred Heart, the beautiful, amazing, gorgeous sweeties at Immaculate Heart, the great guys at St. Francis, and the phenomenal cast and crew.”
One of her co-stars in the play, fellow senior Danny Segura, also was her homecoming date, according to St. Francis’ yearbook. Segura didn’t respond to a message seeking comment, but he told British tabloid “The Sun” that Markle kick-started his career in theater by encouraging him to audition for a role as a freshman. And he added that she was “awesome.”
As an actress, Markle is best known for portraying Rachel Zane on the legal drama, “Suits,” on the USA Network. She’s also had many smaller roles in U.S. television and film. Reports indicate she intends to retire from acting when she gets married.
She’s also done work for the international charity One Young World and has traveled to Afghanistan and Spain as part of the USO Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Holiday Tour. She went to Rwanda for the Clean Water Campaign and has traveled to India to raise awareness about women’s issues.
Markle reportedly is expected to become a British citizen and to live together with Prince Harry at Nottingham Cottage in London, on the grounds of Kensington Palace.
All this is wild for her former high school director, who makes regular trips to London, one of his favorite cities.
“I just love the history,” Eulalia said. “Even in high school, it was my favorite thing. So I figured if I teach, that’s the track that I want — British lit. I love royalty, the kings and the queens … just the huge, rich history. I love the succession, I love that mythic kind of fairy tale kind of stuff. The whole London thing brings me joy.
“So when I heard about [Markle’s engagement], I was just so proud, yes,” he said. “I mean, I figured maybe she’d become a big actress, an Oscar kind of thing, but not be married to Prince Harry! She’s going to be a royal!
“I’d like to send them a congratulations card.”